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Lake Junaluska celebrates 100 years

art frA hundred years of history and community will come together during the Centennial Homecoming Week at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center from June 30 to July 7.

Reunions, dynamic speakers, an impressive lineup of concerts, a golf tournament, a water skiing show, fine art and an antiques “road show,” home and garden tours and historic reenactments are all on tap for the thousands of locals and generations of families who will make the pilgrimage to honor and celebrate Lake Junaluska during this special week.


“We’ve tried to have something for everybody,” said Jack Ewing, executive director of Lake Junaluska Retreat Center. “There is a lot of excitement around what has been planned.”

Founded by James Atkins and George R. Stuart as a spiritual retreat for Southern Methodists in 1913, the lakeside compound has evolved into a worldwide destination. Both Methodist ministers, Atkins and Stuart were colleagues who wanted to create a special place for their worship as seen in other parts of the country. 

“There are special places, and certainly Lake Junaluska is one of those, where, for whatever reason, the ground, the space, the air are different,” Ewing said. “And I say that it’s a mystery because it’s not something you can measure analytically, but it is there, and however it got there, whether it is God ordained or whether it’s because we’re intentionally providing it through our Christian hospitality, it is real.”

Since its inception, Lake Junaluska continues to be a haven for Methodists and is the headquarters for The World Methodist Council. Each year, more than 50,000 people visit Lake Junaluska to hear speakers and music, and to participate in hundreds of worship services, classes, conferences and other events — a substantial positive economic impact to Haywood County and beyond.


Lake Junaluska Centennial Homecoming Week

Sunday, June 30 

• Native American Celebration Worship Service with Jonathan Miracle. 8:30 a.m., Stuart Auditorium.

• Worship Service led by Sermon by Ivan Abrahams, General Secretary of the World Methodist Council and music by Lake Junaluska Singers Alumni. 10:45 a.m. to noon, Stuart Auditorium.

• Dramatical production “Of Men Who Ventured Much and Far.” This story is based on the Belgian Congo travels in 1911 by Bishop Walter Lambuth and Dr. John Wesley. For a white man and a black man to travel as brothers to the deepest recesses of the Congo in 1911 was remarkable. This reenactment is based on a book about the venture. 7:30 p.m., Stuart Auditorium, free.

Monday, July 1 

• Friends of the Lake Golf Tournament. 1 p.m., Lake Junaluska Golf Course.

• Lake Junaluska Train Depot Open House. In the Lake’s early days, the train would make four trips a day, ferrying visitors back and forth to Waynesville for meals and accommodations since there were none at the lake back then. The restored depot is now a private residence being opened for tours during this time. 4 to 6 p.m., 1799 S. Lakeshore Drive, free.

• Reenactment of “Historic Lake Crossing.” Relive the lake crossing made by thousands of visitors during Lake Junaluska’s early days from the depot to Stuart Auditorium.  Participants are encouraged to dress in period costumes. For transportation to and from the event, the Lake Junaluska bus will pick participants up at the tent on the front lawn of the Administration Building. 6 to 7 p.m., free.

• A Junaluska Ghost Story. The ghosts of Junaluska past, and the brainchildren of the Lake’s inception — James Atkins and George R. Stuart — meet by chance at midnight in historic Stuart Auditorium and reminisce about how they merged their respective visions for a Methodist retreat in the North Carolina mountains. 7:30 p.m. Stuart Auditorium, free. 

Tuesday, July 2 

• Tour of Historic Homes. Tour five historic homes of some of the lake’s original residents on Atkins Loop, all built between 1913 and 1917. Current owners of the homes and lodge will be on hand to provide historical facts. Visitors may walk the loop or ride in a van. 2 to 5 p.m. $10 per person. (Purchase tickets at the Bethea Welcome Center or at 334 Atkins Loop).

• Balsam Range Concert. 7:30 to 9 p.m., Stuart Auditorium. Tickets are $20 reserved, $17.50 general admission.

Wednesday, July 3 

• Family Olympics. 9 to 11 a.m.

• Boat parade. 5:30 p.m.

• Picnic Fish Fry. 5:30 p.m., tent beside Stuart Auditorium.

• Photo reenactment. 100 years ago this summer attendees of the opening conference at Lake Junaluska gathered in front of Stuart Auditorium to commemorate the historic event with a photograph. Join in the replication of this historic photo. 6:45 p.m., Stuart Auditorium.

• Lake Junaluska Singers concert. 7:30 p.m., Stuart Auditorium. $20 reserved seating, $17.50 general admission.

Thursday, July 4 

• Independence Day Parade followed by BBQ picnic, music and family activates at Nanci Weldon Gym. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• Lake Junaluska Singers concert. 7:30 p.m., Stuart Auditorium. $20 reserved seating, $17.50 general admission.

• Fireworks. 9:45 p.m.

Friday, July 5 

• Family Olympics – 9 to 11 a.m.

• Carolina Water Ski Show. Professional Carolina Show Ski Team will perform stunts and water skiing routines. Best viewing is from the Rose Walk. Two performances at 2 and 4 p.m.

• Lake Junaluska Singers Alumni Reunion. 6 to 10 p.m., Shackford 

Saturday, July 6 

• Antique and Fine Art Discovery Day at Lake Junaluska. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Harrell Center.

• Collecting Fine Arts and Antiques in the 21st Century, Facts and Fiction. 2 p.m., Harrell Center.

• Family Olympics. 9 to 11 a.m.

• Lake Junaluska Time Capsule sealing. 7:15 p.m., Stuart Auditorium.

• Singers Reunion Concert. 7:30 to 9 p.m., Stuart Auditorium. $17.50 general admission.

Some additional events, such as movie night, morning meditations and evening porch fellowships can be found in the full schedule online at or 800.222.4930.

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